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RAC reacts to 'shocking' Max Power statistics

The RAC Foundation has reported that almost 90% of young men think they are ‘good’ or ‘very good’ drivers despite the fact that almost two thirds describe their driving as ‘fast’ and a quarter admit that they are ‘aggressive’.

The figures were released today from a survey of 1,525 respondents conducted by AM sister magazine Max Power. The report suggests that key safety messages are not being received by young drivers whose perception of their driving ability contrasts the actual facts.

Road Casualties Great Britain 2002 (Transport Department statistics) show that the Max Power survey age group (17 – 24) suffered the highest number of road deaths and serious injuries (3,144) of any age group of drivers, or other road users and was more than double the 25 – 29 driver age group (1437).

Closer inspection of the survey results reveals the reason for the discrepancy between perception and reality.

Asked to describe their driving, 86% rated themselves as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ drivers; 73% considered their driving to be ‘controlled’; 64% felt they were ‘confident’; 54% felt they were ‘safe’; 28% felt they were ‘considerate’; 21% thought themselves ‘patient’.

But 62% described their driving as ‘fast’; 2% described their driving as ‘slow’; 38% described their driving as ‘risky’ or ‘exhilarating’; 11% conceded that their driving was ‘dangerous’ or ‘erratic’; 25% described their driving as ‘aggressive’. And while 80% had no points on their licence 20% had three or more points, 9% had nine points and 6% had been disqualified.

Asked what might make them a better driver, only 14% suggested reading the Highway Code. On a much more positive note however, there was widespread recognition of the potential benefits of further driver training with 75% believing that they would be safer drivers, 74% believing that their car insurance would be cheaper, 73% believing that they would be more confident and 44% believing that they would be less likely to have an accident.

Kevin Delaney, RAC Foundation for motoring head of traffic and road safety says: "The Max Power survey is very worrying. Not only does it show that many young motorists seriously underestimate the risk to themselves and their passengers, it suggests that they are not influenced by campaigns to reduce their speed. The good news is that young drivers are keen to improve their driving and recognise the importance of more training.

John Sootheran, editor-in-chief of Max Power, says: "These crash statistics are shocking, but it is encouraging that many young drivers seem keen to improve their skills. With this in mind, Max Power has got together with the Institute of Advanced Motorists to create Max Driver, an exciting new advanced-driving scheme especially for young drivers.”

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